KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — A tsunami advisory has been issued for Hawaii after an earthquake of magnitude 8.2 struck off the coast of Chile on Tuesday, but waves are not expected to flood inland areas in the U.S. state, officials said.
The advisory level issued for Hawaii by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is less significant than a tsunami warning, which would be prompted by expectations of widespread flooding.
“It’s clear that we’re not going to go to a warning for Hawaii,” Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist with the center, told reporters.
The initial wave from the earthquake off the coast of Chile is expected to reach Hawaii at 3:24 a.m. (9:24 a.m. ET) on Wednesday, the center said.
“What we’re really worried about is currents,” Fryer said. “And occasionally you get a larger wave so it sweeps up the beach or something. If you’re not ready for it you can get into difficulty and if you’re in the water you can get banged about.”
Sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all the coasts of Hawaii, endangering swimmers and boaters, as well as people on beaches, harbors and marinas, the center said in its advisory.
“We’re sure the waves are not going to be large enough to cause any flooding,” Fryer said.
The advisory for Hawaii will last until around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Fryer said.
In Chile, five people have died following the massive quake that struck the north of the Andean country, Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake generated a large tsunami with the biggest wave reported at more than 7 feet. The Chilean navy said the first big wave hit the country’s coast within 45 minutes of the earthquake.